St. Raphael’s Church has a special educational spirit that has been present since the beginning of the parish and continues to this day.
The parish was started by a group of lay people who went directly to Archbishop Murray and asked for a pastor to start a parish for them. In June of 1951, St. Raphael’s parish was established under the direction of Fr. Thomas Fenlon. In October of 1951, construction of the church/school basement was started. The property where the church and school now stand was a cornfield when construction began. In fact, most of the corn crop was harvested after the foundation was built. Parishioners hoped to finish the basement by Christmas, but it wasn’t finished until the spring of 1952. That first year, all funds and parishioner labor were dedicated to the construction of the of the school and temporary church. By fall the school was ready. The Most Rev. John G. Murray dedicated the building on September 7, 1952.
In the fall of 1952, the school’s enrollment was 276 students in grades one through six. Five sisters of St. Joseph comprised the first faculty with Sister Ellen Joan Malone serving as principal and Superior of the religious community. Grades seven and eight were added a year at a time, and by 1958, enrollment had reached 857. Through the mid-sixties, the parish and school continued to grow. Peak enrollment was achieved in this period when it reached 1200.
In 1975, the principal, Sr. Ann Celine, saw the need for a kindergarten program. In the fall of 1976, forty-five students enrolled in kindergarten. In 2004, St. Raphael’s Catholic School added a Pre-K program.
In 1987, Fr. Stanley Srnec, pastor of St. Raphael’s, proposed the idea of an endowment fund for the parish school to the finance council. He was troubled by the rising cost of Catholic education and wanted to “insure the financial stability of our school.” The finance council endorsed Fr. Srnec’s idea. He formed a committee to implement his vision. In May of 1988, the endowment fund drive began.
Throughout the 1990’s updates were made on the educational programs and the addition of technology in the form of a computer lab and phone access throughout the building. Co-curricular programs were enhanced through both the Athletic Association and the addition of the Theatre Department.